Monday, February 4, 2013
Monday Mourning -- Senior Night 2013
Would you look at that sweet little game face? That's my girl, circa 2007, just before the seventh grade championship basketball game. And here she is in 2013...
Tomorrow night we'll be participating in Senior Night after her ball game. So hard to believe.
I absolutely love the expression on her face in that first picture. I remember that little girl. She was pure and sweet and innocent, and blissfully unaware of what the future held for her. She didn't know that her best friend was about to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. She never imagined that only a year later she'd be holding her sister's hand as she took her final breaths on this earth.
Over the last five years, I watched that little girl vacillate between fear and faith as her sister's health declined, I saw her shuffled around among family and friends as we took care of Hannah's medical needs, and I missed many of the ball games and other events that were so important to her. I heard her bravely speak at her sister's funeral about how we didn't lose Hannah ... that we knew exactly where she was. Lost in the fog of my own grief, I didn't see that she had lost her rudder and, for a time, was drifting in potentially dangerous waters. And, by the grace of God, I've seen her faith and her joy restored.
And somewhere in those five years, that little girl grew up. I watch her sometimes, when she doesn't know I'm doing it, and I often find myself in awe of what I'm seeing. I see a girl-woman who carries herself with confidence, who demonstrates leadership with compassion, and who has a heart for hurting people. She has strong opinions and is not afraid to voice them, she is wonderful with children, and she has a personality that brightens up any room.
I was watching her at a ball game the other night and feeling that now-familiar sense of awe ... and I found myself wondering why "awe" was what I felt. Maybe it's because I know what she's been through. Maybe it's because I know how far she's come. Maybe it's because I never got to see her sister grow up like this, so I'm witnessing it all for the first time. But I finally decided that it's because I know how fragile life really is, and I'm fully aware that everything can change in a second. I know that I need to fully appreciate every moment I have with her. And I plan to do just that.
So tomorrow night, as I walk across that gym floor beside my beautiful daughter, I might shed a tear or two ... but it won't be because I'm sad she's growing up. I will never be sad that my girl is growing up ... that's what our children are supposed to do. No, if there are tears, they will be tears of joy that she is growing into the woman God intended her to be.
Today, I went to our local party store and ordered some balloons for tomorrow night's ceremony. The saleslady was very helpful and even personalized the balloons with Bethany's name and uniform number. As I swiped my debit card, she said, "Have fun tomorrow night." I thanked her and headed for the door, and just as I opened it, she called out, "Enjoy her!" I stopped short, looked back over my shoulder, and said, "Oh, I will."
If she only knew.